On Art's TrailOct 01, 2023 09:00AM ● By Maggie Barnes
Art festivals aren’t really a new idea. Most of us have been to a park somewhere to wander among the displays of paintings, photographs, sculptures, and the like. But the Naples Open Studio Trail turns this concept on its head. Instead of the artist packing up and traveling, the art patrons move from studio to studio, watching the artists in action in their own environments.
More than twenty years ago, a few artistic ladies came up with the idea. They chose the first full weekend of October because of the incredible beauty of the Finger Lakes as autumn switches out nature’s palette. Organizer Jo Anne Alliet says they defined an area with a high concentration of artist studios.
“The general rule of thumb for participants is to be within a fifteen mile radius of the village of Naples,” she says. “There are artists from the Naples, Middlesex, and Canandaigua areas.”
This year, on October 7 and 8, the home studios and galleries will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
“There are twelve artists participating in their home-based studios, and nine guest artists who will join in sharing space with these artists, many of whom are winners of regional and national awards,” Jo Anne says.
One of those artists is her husband, Albie Alliet, who is a fine art acrylic painter.
“I create paintings in many styles from realistic and impressionistic, to contemporary and 3-D paintings,” says Albie, who’s been with the Trail for two decades. “Visitors to my gallery think they’re looking at several different artists’ work.”
Many of Albie’s pieces depict the scenic places he has visited, including sea grass-covered beaches at Cape Cod and a variety of sweeping overlooks—like one on Canandaigua Lake.
While art may be a solitary pursuit, the artists on the Trail relish the chance to visit with patrons and talk about their work and methods.
“I most enjoy having dozens of people each day join me in my home-based gallery and studio,” Albie says. “They can view and purchase art, or have me create commissioned pieces designed to their own personal taste, and create memories that last a lifetime.”
Fellow Trail artist Darryl Abraham, whose work has graced the cover of this magazine, agrees.
“I’ve always loved to draw watercolors and do carvings and wood burning,” Darryl says. “This is a chance to bring the public to us by opening our studios.” The fun of the Trail, he adds, is the variety of art and the interaction. “The great thing about the Trail is that there are many different styles and venues—something for everyone. It’s always nice to see folks having a good weekend centered around art.”
In these intimate settings, the artists can tell their stories, not just the story of the art. And visitors get to experience the artistic process as it unfolds before them.
Jo Anne says there is a type of art to meet the taste of any buyer. There are, of course, paintings to hang on a wall, but so much more.
“Artists and craftsmen are creators of fine art in oil, acrylic, and watercolor, as well as wall 3-D art, pottery, glassblowers, and woodworkers creating furniture and utensils,” she says. Visitors will also find jewelry, sculpture, photography, fiber art, and weavers.
Because of the timing of the Trail—it is fall in the Finger Lakes, after all—many of the visitors choose to spend the weekend, giving a tangible boost to the local economy. It doesn’t hurt, either, that the holiday season is looming on the horizon, and a customized piece of art directly from the hands of the artist is a gift that cannot be beat for a special vibe.
How does the Trail work? It is basically a self-guided tour, Jo Anne says, and the visitor’s best guide is the event brochure.
“The brochure includes a map along with address locations of the studios participating that are suitable for GPS guidance,” she explains. The community has embraced the annual event, as evidenced by the amount of local donations and advertising that go into the brochure. Jo Anne notes that the involvement of local businesses is an especially nice part of the Studio Trail, making it a true partnership with the artists. More than 1,000 brochures are dropped off to local businesses, along with 3,500 shipped out to a robust mailing list.
So, go where you want, when you want, and spend as much time as you want. Participants have total control of their experience. This is an intimate experience, however, this watching of artists while they work. A vision that may have only existed in their minds somehow comes to life before your eyes. You can ask questions and learn about the process. The artists, often spending their creative time in solitude, draw energy and inspiration from their studio guests. It’s true that art is a moveable feast. But how often do you get to stand in the studio where such beauty is born? What a delightful concept—to allow the artist to stay in their place of inspiration and invite the public to feel their energy at work.
Art-loving Trail guests can also reach out to the artists well after their visits. Sales, and relationships, go on throughout the year.
If you want to be a part of this special happening, get the most up-to-date information at naplesopenstudiotrail.com. Or grab one of those brochures from a local business, and, while you’re there, do thank them for their support of the arts. You can also call Nancy Napurski at (585) 967-3348 or Jo Anne at (585) 749-2248.